Paul Jacob

I used to wonder what it was like to live in West Berlin during the dark, chill days of the Cold War — so close to the east side of the city, but cordoned off from it by walls and barbed wire and twitchy uniformed men with guns.

Soon, maybe I won’t have to wonder. I will just drive north from my home in Virginia and experience Washington, D.C., in all its ignominy.

Crime has become so bad there that the police are being given more and deadlier rifles to carry around, and sections of the city are being cordoned off in a new effort to roust the bad guys out:

D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.

Well, the city’s gotta do something. Crime really is bad there.

But, I wonder, is this the right direction?

Increasingly, visiting our nation’s capital can only be likened to visiting a distant dystopia, with problems that don’t seem quite at home in America.

Criminals are the most obvious malefactors, but surely part of the problem is government. The seat of our own government is run as if it were the reductio ad absurdum of government everywhere: A huge graft operation taking money from Group A to give to Group B, and then from Groups B and C to give to D, to the enrichment of a few and the general despoliation of all.

Whole segments of the population are now snared in the trap of government assistance. Call it “welfare,” if you must . . . but how much of this money increases the actual welfare of those caught in the cycle of poverty?

It is worth remembering that, in the communities where crime breeds like mold on old mush, the historical legacy of the last several generations has been massive government intervention . . . or, I should say, continuous and massive government failure.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.